HOME
          
LATEST STORY
Opening up the archives: JSTOR wants to tie a library to the news
ABOUT                    SUBSCRIBE
Dec. 21, 2011, 5 p.m.

Burt Herman: In the coming year, social media journalists will #Occupythenews

In the real-time news cycle, social media can — and should — be about much more than conversation.
Editor’s Note: We’re wrapping up 2011 by asking some of the smartest people in journalism what the new year will bring.

Next up is Burt Herman, the founder of Hacks/Hackers and the co-founder of Storify.

Social media’s essential role in serious journalism can no longer be ignored. Next year, social media journalism will finally grow up.

Journalism will be more collaborative, embracing the fundamental social nature of the Internet. The story will be shaped by people involved in the news, curated by savvy editors from diverse sources and circulated back again to the audience. This is the new real-time news cycle.

It is telling and fitting that next year’s Pulitzer Prize for breaking news reporting will be judged for the first time based on real-time reporting. A Pulitzer Prize for tweeting was a joke just a few years ago. It’s now a reality.

Take Occupy Wall Street. Even in New York, with its swarms of professional journalists, social media illuminated the protests and insured that the movement’s story was told. When police blocked media access and detained card-carrying members of the press, live-streamed videos from participants and students curating social media stepped in.

Looking at the Occupy movement itself hints at where journalism will go in its decentralized, real-time, collaborative, and curated future.

Decentralized

News will break on whatever website or format lends itself to the story, and be even more likely to happen away from news organizations’ homepages. Whether via a Livestream feed, an answer to a Quora question, or an Instagram photo, the story will splinter further, evolving from a singular product into something much more dynamic and multi-dimensional.

Real-time

Audiences expect to see news at Internet speed, and have no patience for conventional journalists to wake up to this reality. News consumers should be able to learn about important issues as quickly as they can see what a friend is listening to on Spotify through Facebook’s new seamless social sharing.

Collaborative

With the decline in journalism staffs, the audiences and participants involved in the news are also more involved than ever before in telling their own stories. Reporters will increasingly open their process and discuss stories as they’re developing; they’ll also be more willing to talk candidly about what they do and don’t know. They will increasingly crowdsource their coverage, asking their audiences for input in their stories. And they’ll become more collaborative with fellow journalists, as well, soliciting information and sharing their work.

Curated

Bringing all these elements together will underscore the importance of curation. Journalists have always taken masses of information and condensed it into something digestible for readers, adding context and insights. More than ever, journalists will curate sources outside their newsrooms to tell their stories.

Social media journalism can do better than snark. Following the death this week of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, there were the usual social media roundups of clever one-liners and LOLcat mashups. But we need to push the boundaries of how social media can be used to report on an event that throws an entire continent into a state of uncertainty over a potentially unstable, nuclear-armed state.

The protesters occupied Wall Street to prompt a national debate on widening disparities in wealth and opportunity. It’s up to the new generation of social media journalists to #Occupythenews — and to make sure society doesn’t miss the stories that, diffuse and elusive though they may be, are crucial to understanding our world.

POSTED     Dec. 21, 2011, 5 p.m.
PART OF A SERIES     Predictions for Journalism 2012
SHARE THIS STORY
   
Show comments  
Show tags
 
Join the 15,000 who get the freshest future-of-journalism news in our daily email.
Opening up the archives: JSTOR wants to tie a library to the news
Its new site JSTOR Daily highlights interesting research and offers background and context on current events.
Six fresh ideas for news design from a #SNDMakes designathon
New media and legacy media came together at the second weekend-long “hackathon” hosted by the Society for News Design.
Where you get your news depends on where you stand on the issues
A new study by the Pew Research Center examines how Americans’ news consumption habits correlate with where they fall on the political spectrum.
What to read next
1020
tweets
The newsonomics of the millennial moment
The new wave of news startups is aiming at a younger audience. But do legacy media companies have a chance at earning their attention?
803A mixed bag on apps: What The New York Times learned with NYT Opinion and NYT Now
The two apps were part of the paper’s plan to increase digital subscribers through smaller, targeted offerings. Now, with staff cutbacks on the way, one app is being shuttered and the other is being adjusted.
537Watching what happens: The New York Times is making a front-page bet on real-time aggregation
A new homepage feature called “Watching” offers readers a feed of headlines, tweets, and multimedia from around the web.
These stories are our most popular on Twitter over the past 30 days.
See all our most recent pieces ➚
Encyclo is our encyclopedia of the future of news, chronicling the key players in journalism’s evolution.
Here are a few of the entries you’ll find in Encyclo.   Get the full Encyclo ➚
West Seattle Blog
Circa
Talking Points Memo
SeeClickFix
Current TV
Press+
Gannett
Lens
TechCrunch
Ann Arbor News
National Journal
The Atlantic